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  • The Brand: Coca-Cola

    Coca-Cola archivist Phil Mooney and Rick Allen, author of Secret Formula, a history of Coke, comment on Coca-Cola's early history and its rise to become a seminal part of American culture. 

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. Explain the innovations that helped Coca-Cola go from being a tasty drink at local pharmacies to a powerful national company.

    2. One of the ultimate pinnacles in a company's legacy is for their product to become a commonly used verb, or the generic name of an object. List as many products like this as you can, then explain the benefits for a company's product to become a generic term.

    3. What role did World War II play in Coke's growth? 

    Expansion

    1. Create an advertising campaign for Pemberton's new formula of Coke. Remember that he had to change the formula to remove alcohol after Atlanta was voted "dry" in 1885.

    Vocabulary

    advertisement: something (such as a short film or a written notice) that is shown or presented to the public to help sell a product or to make an announcement
    The Anti-Saloon League: the leading organization lobbying for prohibition in the United States in the early 20th century
    archivist: a person who has the job of collecting and storing the materials in an archive
    commercialization: to make (something) available to customers
    patent: an official document that gives a person or company the right to be the only one that makes or sells a product for a certain period of time
    Prohibition: the period of time from 1920 to 1933 in the U.S. when it was illegal to make or sell alcohol
    stock: a share of the value of a company which can be bought, sold or traded as an investment
    temperance movement: a social movement against the consumption of alcoholic beverages
    trademark: something (such as a word) that identifies a particular company's product and cannot be used by another company without permission 

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. Explain the innovations that helped Coca-Cola go from being a tasty drink at local pharmacies to a powerful national company. 
    Asa Candler's decision to spend vast sums of money on advertising brought national awareness to the brand and built curiosity in consumers' minds. By bottling the drink and allowing consumers to have access to the beverage away from soda fountains, Coca-Cola greatly expanded the demand for their product. 

    2. One of the ultimate pinnacles in a company's legacy is for their product to become a commonly used verb, or the generic name of an object. List as many products like this as you can, then explain what it means for a company's product to become a generic term. 
    Answers will vary. Students may be shocked to hear that Xerox, Band-aid, Jacuzzi, Crock-Pot, and Jet Ski are all trademarked brands. For a company, having your brand name used as a generic term gives that product an air of stability and quality. It also is very familiar to consumers and harder for other companies to compete with. A company doesn't need to advertise its product very much when everyone calls lip balm Chapstick or tissues Kleenex. 

    3. What role did World War II play in Coke's growth? 
    As Rick Allen explains, troops overseas wanted a handful of things from back home: cigarettes, chewing gum, letters from their sweethearts, and Coca-Cola. When they came back from the war, an entire generation of young people had developed fierce loyalties to Coca-Cola and passed those product preferences onto others. 

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